Activision Blizzard has confirmed Diablo Immortal will not launch in Belgium and the Netherlands alongside other countries on June 2, and has blamed the territories’ “current operating environments” for preventing the release of its new free-to-play title, Eurogamer reports† The two countries are known for their recent rulings against loot boxes in games, with authorities in each country arguing that they are a form of gambling. The cancellation was first reported by the Dutch news site Tweakers†
“Diablo Immortal will not be available in Belgium or the Netherlands, and will not appear on Battle.net or the Belgian and Dutch App or Google Play Stores,” a spokesperson for the game’s publisher said. Eurogamer† “This has to do with the current operating environment for games in those countries. Accordingly, pre-registrations for the game are not accessible in those markets.”
The statement does not specifically confirm that Belgium and the Netherlands are to blame for rules surrounding loot boxes. But given recent high-profile rulings in both countries, it would be a huge coincidence if it weren’t.
In 2018, the Belgian Gaming Commission explained that video game loot boxes “violate gambling laws”, and ordered games sold in the country are removing the feature. EA, which operates one of the most successful examples of loot boxes with its FIFA franchise, announced that it would stop selling the in-game currency needed to buy them in Belgium the following year. Similar mechanics were also disabled in overwatch and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, polygon reports†
In the Netherlands, the situation is more complicated. In a 2020 ruling, the country’s Gaming Authority EA ordered to disable FIFA’s loot boxes or risk a fine of hundreds of thousands of euros per week. But earlier this year this decision has been reversed when a Dutch court ruled that the game’s card packs do not constitute gambling and revoked an earlier fine.
While Activision Blizzard’s official statement doesn’t mention any loot boxes, there is an unverified customer support email shared on reddit was more explicit. ‘Players in the Netherlands and Belgium cannot install’ Diablo: Immortal due to the countries’ gambling restrictions,” the email reads. “The loot boxes in the game are against the law in your country.”
An Activision Blizzard representative did not respond to: The Verges request for comment. Diablo Immortal is the latest entry in the company’s long-running Diablo franchise and the first to be mobile in addition to PC.